Exhibitionists·Video

Watch a miniature Canada come to life — one tiny building, tree and Tim Hortons at a time

These astonishingly detailed scenes are actually mini models currently being built for the giant (or, well, tiny) project Our Home & Miniature Land.

These astonishingly detailed scenes are currently being built for the project Our Home & Miniature Land

Our Home & Miniature Land's Parliament Hill in the Ottawa display. (CBC Arts)

Right now, right this moment, in two warehouses in Mississauga, there is a team hard at work building a miniature version of Canada.

They're estimating that it will take 180,000 hours of labour, and they aren't stopping until they've represented the entire country one tiny building, tree and Tim Hortons at a time. This giant (or, well, tiny) venture, which launched in 2014, is appropriately titled "Our Home & Miniature Land." The goal is to open in 2020 as an interactive attraction that will take visitors on a journey across Canada — in miniature scale (1/87 to be exact).

Watch the video:

A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Our Home & Miniature Land — a tiny model of Canada. 5:16

It's the brainchild of European-born, Oakville-based businessman Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer, who was inspired by Europe's popular indoor miniature worlds — like Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg — and wanted to create a similar attraction for Canada. Brenninkmeijer teamed up with Dave MacLean (who was president of the Model Railroad Club of Toronto at the time) and together they assembled a talented group that includes architects, engineers, IT specialists, model makers and artists to build their miniature Canada.

The Toronto sign. (CBC Arts)
A detailed scene from the Ottawa cityscape in Our Home & Miniature Land. (CBC Arts)

So far, they've completed nearly four miniature destinations: Ottawa, Toronto, the Golden Horseshoe and the Niagara region (the last of which they're currently putting the finishing touches on). A 14-foot tall CN Tower glows in the Toronto display — complete with tiny daring edgewalkers — while the Rogers Centre features a retractable roof and 10,000 miniature sports fans watching a Blue Jays game. In Ottawa, the Parliament Hill buildings — which took three team members 2,500 hours to create — are astounding in their details, right down to each hand-painted limestone. Hamilton includes the first-ever Tim Hortons and there's even a miniature Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Dan Notley, head of the scenery team at Our Home & Miniature Land, works on a winter scene. (CBC Arts)
Look closer: many scenes in the miniature world have a sense of humour, like this moving day moment in Ottawa. There's no way that piano's fitting through the window. (CBC Arts)

The team creates the destinations through various techniques including 3D printing, laser cutting, modifying pre-made model railway and dollhouse kits, and a lot of hands-on building and painting. (Scroll to the bottom of this story to watch them make a 3D model of our very own Amanda Parris!) They're also wiring the display for lighting, sound and video projection. Each team member is encouraged to bring their own creativity, humour and even memories to the project. In the model for Ottawa's historic Château Laurier hotel, each individual room was personally designed and decorated by a different member of the team, and it was built with one side open like a dollhouse to showcase them.

The team is currently on the hunt for a 50,000 square foot location permanent location in downtown Toronto where they can open to the public. They hope to attract 500,000 visitors each year.

Miniature artist Maggie Kozcur paints a tiny person. (CBC Arts)
The Château Laurier model is sliced open to reveal individual rooms inside. Each room is wired with lighting and tells a story of its own, including a scene from The Shawshank Redemption and an underwater room. (CBC Arts)
Toronto's Distillery District in Our Home & Miniature Land (CBC Arts)

Watch Amanda have a 3D portrait made

Ever wondered how miniature 3D sculptures are made? Watch this video to see CBC Arts: Exhibitionists host Amanda Parris get scanned by 120 cameras and printed in 3D at Objex Unlimited in Toronto. We took the mini Amandas along with us to Our Home & Miniature Land and placed them in the scenes. Keep your eyes open for them!

CBC Arts: Exhibitionists host Amanda Parris goes to Objex Unlimited in Toronto to have her miniature 3D portrait created! 1:34
A 3D portrait sculpture of Amanda Parris in front of sculptures of the Our Home & Miniature Land team. (CBC Arts)

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT). Watch more videos here.